EMS tech: how our ambulance crews stay connected

Long-distance road repatriations can be extremely complicated. Ground crews have to mobilise quickly, the route plans need to react to developing traffic conditions, and of course the patient’s needs can change during the journey too. From an operational point of view, what this means is that communication between all the different, fast-moving parts has to be perfect. One of the ways we achieve that here at EMS Air Ambulance & Medical Repatriation is through an advanced radio communications system that connects our ground ambulance crews and operatives across the world and keeps them in sync. Here’s how it works.

Stay connected

Instant global connections

The word “radio” is perhaps a bit misleading, since the system doesn’t use conventional radio waves at all. The radio units are actually web-enabled, with high-speed ethernet connections. They link directly to the internet like a 5G mobile phone would. This means our drivers can pick up their receivers and instantly speak to our colleagues in Europe and Dubai – and indeed anywhere else.

In-cabin driver access

The hardware for the radio systems is built into each of the vehicles in our ambulance fleet. When a call comes in, a crewmember simply has to pick up the walky-talky receiver to relay their message back to head office, or vice versa. The audio is designed to be clear and easy to hear against background noise and roaring traffic. There are radio units both front and rear of the vehicles for easy access.

Smartphone optimised

Beneath the bonnet, the system is powered by a voice- and data-dispatch application called SmartPTT. This links the in-vehicle radios directly to a central software hub, which means our ambulance coordinators in the Netherlands and the UAE can pick them up via their smartphones. When a crewmember puts in a call, they get instant notifications. The system also logs key call data (such as names, locations, and statuses) and can record calls if necessary.

Virtual-Office linked

If a repatriation is happening, all the members of our global team are able to keep in touch with its progress. That’s because we run a Virtual Office between our two main hubs in Europe and the Middle East. In-office webcams stream live footage from one to the other, so colleagues can chat to each other instantly and share updates – and take calls from the ambulance radios if they need to.

What does all this mean for patient safety? Well, there are two main ways that we use the in-ambulance radio system to look after our patients when they’re on the road.

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For in-journey updates

Whatever the urgency of your patient’s medical situation, our main priority is to make sure they get quickly and safely to their destination. Regular dispatches are a vital part of this. While our ambulance is on the road, one of the crewmembers will be calling-in regular updates on the journey – letting them know how the patient is doing, reporting traffic issues and keeping them abreast of the estimated time of arrival. The ETA is especially important for hospital transports, because we use it to ensure your patient’s bed is ready and waiting for them when they arrive at the hospital.

For emergency situations

Although the vast majority of repatriations go very smoothly, medical emergencies do sometimes happen en route. A patient’s health can deteriorate unexpectedly; our crew might need to stop so the medics can deliver urgent help or bring a new piece of equipment into play. If this happens, we’ll stay in close contact with HQ via the radio system. If necessary, the crew can dial in our medical director at any time for additional expertise. We can also use the radios to discuss route changes, for instance to divert to the nearest hospital.

Ultimately, the radio system brings us closer to our patients as they travel securely on towards their destination. Wherever your patient is in the world, however urgent their situation, they’re never more than a call away.

What other features does an EMS road ambulance have?

  • Pressure-relieving Decupré mattress
  • Advanced medical bag
  • Evacuation wheelchair
  • Patient and passenger luggage space
  • Air suspension system and automatic gearbox
  • Range of 500km between fuel stops
  • Total range of 4,000km or more

You can find out more about how our long-distance ambulances work in this blog article: Behind the scenes on a road ambulance: what’s on board? Or hop to the Road Ambulance section of our website for further detail.

Contact us

If you need to talk, we’re ready to help! You can reach our repatriation experts by phone, email or WhatsApp – just head to our Contact page for all the details, or click the button below. You can also get a quick, no-obligation cost estimate for your transport with our online pricing calculator.

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